Teacher job action strike (1)

Editorial By: Korie Marshall

The strike action of the BC Teachers Federation is bound to be messy, and I have no doubt it’s part of the government’s plan to try to get people upset at the teachers. But I applaud the teachers for standing up for their students – your children, and our future. Yes, I am one of those people who don’t have children, but when I listen to local students talk about their teachers, and see some of the great things our local kids are achieving, I know that has a lot to do with the teachers, and it is good for our community.

It makes me cringe to hear people say that teachers get enough money already, that they have an easy job because they are only in school for 10 months of the year, 6 hours a day, and that the currently unemployed substitute teachers would love to step in and take teaching jobs at the current pay and class sizes. I don’t believe any of that is true.

Sure, there may be some teachers who don’t work as hard as others, maybe there are some that have figured out easy and quick ways to mark tests, and don’t have to prepare new lessons because they’ve done the same thing for years. That doesn’t mean they don’t do work, and especially in small schools like ours, where courses are always changing, and there are always split classes to deal with and new technology – the idea of the teacher who has been doing the same thing for 30 years doesn’t exist anymore.

I went to a large rural school in Nova Scotia, there were about 100 kids in my graduating class, from all over half the county, and I remember there were not a lot of options for courses, or extracurricular activities. There was no Berg Lake camping trip, no trip to the provincial capital, and no weekend bus trips for sports teams that I remember.

I am constantly amazed at how many options in courses kids get at our schools here in the Robson Valley, and the involvement of so many teachers and other volunteers in sporting and extracurricular activities. It is one of the great things about small communities – people pull together and find ways to do things that are important, but the teachers we have, the ones who choose to stay here and continue teaching deserve recognition for that too.

You may be concerned about what to do with your kid on a strike day, or whether something has been canceled because of the teacher’s strike. But imagine what our teachers – the people to whom you’ve entrusted the care and education of your children – are feeling. They are fighting for better education for your kids, not just about their pay and class size. They face losing 10 per cent of their pay this week, and confusing working conditions because of the strike action and lock out, and they still want to see children finish school this year. I can’t even imagine their stress, and yet they are still doing extracurricular stuff with the kids – because they care about them.

Does the government care that much about your kids? For the government, it seems to be all about money. They say kids are doing well enough, and we can’t afford to hire additional teachers to bring class size back down. Yet the government has enough money to challenge the Supreme Court ruling that says they’ve been violating teachers’ rights for 12 years. And they have enough money to fund private schools. I don’t care what the percentage is, if the government doesn’t have enough money to pay public school teachers, and all the other staff required, then nothing should be going to private schools.

I remember classes of 30 kids in my school, and I survived it. But would I go back to that if I had the chance? No way. We know kids aren’t all the same; they don’t learn all the same, and we know better ways to teach. We can’t go backwards.

I support teachers in BC, and especially our local teachers. I just saw a picture from a friend in Quesnel, showing students picketing with teachers and signs saying “Stop blaming teachers.” I’m hoping to see some of that locally on Thursday.